Day 053: Apprentice
Summary: At the dawn of a new day, the newest member of the Skaikru takes on a Second, offering the shady delinquent a new chance… to study real Earth Skills under a real Earth-born Grounder.
Date: 22 July 2016
Related: Follows Nokru Like You and occurs the morning after Giddy-up
Cassandra Gideon 

The Row — Camp Jaha

The arching ring of Alpha Station rises high above this still-developing shantytown. Living quarters, workshops, and storage have been built out of panels from the uninhabitable parts of Alpha Station. They run down on either side of a pierced-metal plank roadway, ending in a metal-topped dirt ramp leading up to an airlock entrance to Alpha Station. A large section of Alpha Station's hull has been removed to open up what used to be a work-bay, and has now been turned into a garage for the Ark's few rovers.

A metal fence surrounds the camp, with an open space and then an electrified wire fence beyond that. Outside of the wire fence is a rolling meadow, a peaceful lake, a little stream, and then the lush forests of Trikru lands.

53 Days After Landing

It's early in the morning when Cassandra finally shows up to come looking for Gideon kom Skaikru, four days after her offer to make the wandering survivalist into a Second. By now it's clear the girl is an exceptionally early riser, in stark contrast to most teenagers and her especially bad attitude. Though she had arrived back at camp the prior evening, casing the stables, she was unfortunately distracted by the owner of a different horse. Boys can be distracting.

Regaining her focus, she set out to calm her mind with a daily ritual of listening to the Dawn Chorus, and returns now to the Row. There she seeks Gideon's ash-white Delano, hoping to find a fairer rider than the one she found fussing over Steak and New Boots. She's skulking, as usual, wearing a coat despite the weather. Her hands are in her pockets, and she's keeping a wary eye out for any sign of guards.

Boys can be distracting! Gideon has been distracted by her own as she has been working on building her own home within the Row. She still has not been given full access to Alpha Station, as she is still on probationary status, but that has not stopped her from making it clear she is here to stay. Currently, the woman is working tirelessly in shaping some wood into what will become framing for her home. The ground has already been cleared and packed down to bare dirt.

Delano is loitering nearby, slowly chewing on a bit of grass. She looks up toward Cassandra first, and releases a low chuffing noise. Almost as if she said something to Gideon, the archer looks up to spot the skulking Cassandra. She smiles slightly, but says in a firm voice, "Stop skulking… you look like you're hiding something, which only makes people notice you more. If you walk with a high head and with purpose, no one will question whether or not you're supposed to be where you are." Says someone who has tried this kind of casual deception in the past. Pretend like you belong, and most will think you do.

"The guards are looking for me," Cassandra explains, sounding even more shady than she already looks. She narrows her eyes at their surroundings, particularly up at the gates, and slinks on closer to Gideon. "Won't really help if they think I belong or not." She clearly wants to say more, but she bites her tongue. She does, after all, mean to impress Gideon, and negativity seldom impresses anyone. She looks to the moss-eyed woman, across from Delano.

"Can I?" she asks, raising a hand to pat the horse's mane, but halting for permission. "I'm… here to accept your offer."

Gideon arches a brow slightly at this news, and she looks around when Cassandra does. Then she looks at the dark-haired girl again. "Why are they looking for you?" Despite what people may assume, there is no actual accusation there, more just curiosity. She sets aside the bit of metal she's working with, and gestures Cassandra to go ahead. Delano continues to meander around nearby, finding little shoots of grass to chow down on.

When she speaks next, the ex-Trikru tilts her head slightly, looking back up toward the girl. "To become my…" Beat pause, adjusting her terminology to fit where she is now. "… apprentice." She nods slightly. "Good, I had hoped you would."

Following after the meandering Delano, Cassandra reaches out with curiosity and wonder to pet the horse's mane, similarly to how she's seen Asher fuss over Steak and New Boots. Maybe some day he'll love her the way he loves that horse. She herself seems to be a natural with animals, lacking the disrespectful aggression that children often have in their eagerness to grope at all things fluffy. She is cautious, ready to pull back at any sign of derision from the horse, and gives that pale neck several friendly pats, stroking gently downwards.

"Guess that makes you my new Earth Skills teacher," Cass replies, looking back over her shoulder towards Gideon. "You'll be better than my last."

The delinquent pauses before answering the prior question about the guards, her eye roaming towards the gate patrol. "I um, got zapped by one almost a week ago." She steps back from Delano, pulling back her fist near her waist and making a sticking motion to explain her meaning. "Totally no big deal, and I had it coming. But my… pal made a big fuss about it and went to report the incident. So now they're looking to give me an 'interview' and need my 'testimony'." Her flippant tone makes clear how poorly she thinks of this notion. She raises her fingers to mime air-quotes to accompany those latter guard terms, then shrugs. "Anyway, I don't wanna."

Delano is quite a gentle horse for being one meant for battle. Her flanks shiver a bit, but then she settles to let Cassandra dote on her. She'll even turn her nose into the girl's cheek and chuff out a rather horse-scented breath. Then she ducks her head and resumes her grazing even while Gideon watches with mute interest. When Cassie looks back to her, the archer smiles. "Earth skills… hard to imagine that, that is what you call it… but yes, I suppose so."

"Zapped," Gideon repeats, then her brain clicks in. "With a shock baton." She considers Cassandra then, letting her speak. She shrugs a shoulder. "So give it. If your friend thought you were mistreated, and the guard are seeking your side of the story, but you do not give it, then you discredit both yourself and your friend… and if you give testimony, and the guard discount it… then the guard prove that they are what they think they are."

She gathers up some of her tools, looking over the foundation of what will become her house, and then back at Cassandra. "You give people chances… because people might surprise you, or they might confirm what you always believed… but none of those things can happen if you do not give people chances." She offers Cassandra a grin. "I learned that from the Commander. Lexa kom Trikru will give everyone a chance… because then she either gains something, or has justified reasons to retaliate."

Throughout the first four weeks down on Earth, when they had no toothpaste, Cassandra had learned to deal with many individuals possessing a horse-scented breath. She even kissed a couple. So when Delano chuffs in her face, despite having made it a point since to take good care of dental hygiene, she's able to suffer without hurting the mare's feelings too badly; she only leans back a little.

"Last time I gave a testimony…" Cassandra shakes her head. She trails off, but makes it clear in her tone and body language that things ended badly. She stalks back towards Gideon, hands in her pockets as she leaves the horse to graze. "I mean, I'll do it if that's an order." But not enthusiastically. Then she looks up, sounding sincerely curious. "Do you give me orders?"

"She likes you," Gideon remarks simply as Delano grazes around Cassandra's feet, and even starts to follow Cass like she has an apple in her pocket. Then she shrugs her shoulders slightly. "I will… if I need to." She looks seriously at her new student. "Will I need to give you orders?" There is honesty there, making this entire thing an open and honest exchange rather than a bullied one. Either this was the same Secondhood Gideon experienced, or the exact opposite… she was first trained under Indra, after all.

<FS3> Cassandra rolls Survival: Good Success. (4 7 4 8 3 6 6 1 6 6 6)

While she doesn't have an apple in her pocket, Cassandra has a few nuts and berries in her bag. Glancing over her shoulder at the pursuing mare, she opens the flap to dig into it, fishing them to pour into her hand and offer them out. She looks a little wary, because horses have big chompers, and while she's seen Asher feed Steak and New Boots this way, she hasn't herself attempted the feat.

"If you want to," says Cass, sounding unbothered by the prospect of being given orders. She's usually bad at following them, but hey – here she stands something to gain. Of course, there's a catch, casually spoken. "I do have just… one request though. Before we get this apprenticeship started, and then I'm ready to do anything you say."

Delano is delicate, using her lips to scoop and chomp as to not harm Cassandra's hand. She snuffles the girl's palm, tickling with the fine hairs around her mouth. She scores the berries, nosing around the nuts. Her tail flicks happily as she finishes off the good stuff and then goes back to grass grazing.

Gideon tilts her head slightly at the catch that's given, and she offers the smallest hint of a smile. "Ask it, and I will see if I can give it."

Staying her instinctive alarm at the nuzzling horse-head when she realises Delano's chompers won't be claiming her fingers, Cass lets her shoulders relax while Gideon's ride feeds. She waits for a moment to make double-sure of that fact, then glances back up to offer her mentor the catch.

"I'm gonna wanna fight with the Skaikru when we go charging into the mountain. With the group that's going to look for our people." Cassie hooks a thumb at her chest, then points her index finger over at the tall ring of the crashed Alpha station, making clear which people she means. "With Ash Kholmin. He's my…" He's a bit more than a 'pal', which isn't quite the right word, despite her use of it earlier. She could say Niron; she knows the word. After some hesitation, she more crassly settles for, "We're fucking." With a blunt look to Gideon, she continues, "He's injured, so he needs someone to watch out for him."

"Niron," Gideon supplies with a slightly amused grin when Cassandra fights to figure out who Asher is. Then she nods slightly, looking thoughtful. Her shoulders lift in a single shrug. "A Second goes with her First… I'm going with the Skaikru team, so you will go with me." She then looks seriously at Cassandra again. "But when inside, you follow the orders of those in command… no questioning. We defer to those chosen to lead until we prove we are worthy of leadership ourselves…" She settles for a cliche. "You have to follow before you can lead."

"Have you still got a bow? Arrows?" She begins to stand, moving to her small pile of belongings, and where her quiver and bow resides.

"Got my bow right here," says Cass, patting the string that diagonally bisects her chest, and then turning around so that Gideon can see the haft more clearly. "I'm fresh out of arrows. Well, I got a few left, but they're all bent out of shape and stuff. Been retrieving them and cleaning them off; couldn't grab all of them, though, some got eaten by Reapers." And non-cannibalistic Grounders, too. But even if Gideon wasn't at the Dropship during the battle, it seems insensitive to bring up having shot at people she may have known.

A more serious nod follows when the delinquent turns around, and she says, "Got it. Following orders. No questioning."

"Good, we will get you more arrows… and I'll teach you how to fletch. I am not as good as my sister, but can manage decent enough." The archer squats down, pulling aside a few things to find the short sword – all that is left of what had been a nearly-matched set. It is sheathed in smooth, oiled leather and its hilt is wrapped to provide comfort to its wielder. She steps forward, weighing it slightly in her grip.

"It is customary for a First to give a Second the gear she will need to achieve her goals. I'm not sure entirely what to give, but you already have a bow…" She twists the handle a few times in her hand and then offers it out to Cassandra. "I had this weapon created to match the one that I was given when I was a Second. It is light, easy to wield, and can be used to cull underbrush and protect yourself. You will give it back when you are done training, and have equipment of your own." She holds Cassandra's gaze, her expression both serious but also… oh shit… someone is actually looking at Cassandra Bonheur with a bit of pride.

As Cassandra steps forward towards where Gideon kom Skaikru squats, peering over curiously to see the item she's retrieving, she mentions, "Hey umm… thanks, by the way." Hesitation does not suit the prideful delinquent, and this is the third disfluent hem she's made in this conversation; being looked at with the same pride she projects outwards is new for her. When she sees the sword, she raises her eyebrows, and for some odd reason, does not look as pleased as she should.

"Oh, wow," says Cass, which is a bit like replying 'thank you' when someone professes, 'I love you'. But she nods her head, swearing, "I'll take good care of it." She retrieves it with both hands, trailing her eye along the sheathed blade and testing the hilt, before drawing it just a fraction of an inch. "Hard to believe just a couple months ago I was in a box in the sky," she muses. "Never believed I'd need a sword… for anything."

"Good," Gideon says, smiling just a touch, even if Cassandra's excitement on the gift is has not fully resonated. "And I will show you how to take good care of it." Her smile grows a hint. Then she begins to put her belongings away in the pile, reorganizing them.

She looks up at Cassandra's musings, and she tilts her head slightly. "You are not the first, nor the last…" She hesitates then, considering the youth with a tilt of her head. When she asks her question, she does so casually. "Grey was boxed for murder… what about you? What was your crime?" She stands then, gesturing Cassandra to take a seat so she can sit beside her. She draws her quiver with her, settling down.

There's a long pause from Cassandra Bonheur, her expression unreadable. She keeps her eyes on the gift in her hands, contemplating her answer and the extent of her trust in Gideon. Trust is not a thing that comes easily to her. "It's a long story," she eventually says. "But theft, technically. Illegal trading." Giving another nod of her head when her mentor indicates that she sit, she carries the sword with her and drops into a cross-legged crouch, seating herself with raised knees.

Gideon demonstrates that she actually, at heart, is a patient person. She just starts working on removing some of the battered feathers from some of her arrows, giving Cassandra the space she needs. She looks sidelong to the girl when she sits, and then nods. "Theft," she repeats. "As it has been explained… everyone on your Ark was given the same as everyone else… but, is that what happens when someone needs more of one thing, but less than another? Illegal trading?" She arches a brow slightly, letting Cassandra give her response in whatever pace she needs.

Cassandra lets the tip of her new, sheathed sword rest on the ground between her feet, and pulls her older machete to the side so it's more comfortable. Walking around with weapons often isn't. Another nod of her head follows, the Skaigirl needing less space this time to confirm Gideon's suspicions, but that's as far as she goes. The two sit in a short-lived, comfortable silence, before the Skaigirl's train of thought is interrupted by the alarming approach of Lieutenant Sharon Wexler. She's been spotted.

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